Mince pies, like fruit cakes – have a bad holiday reputation. Not “bad in a good way”, but just bad. The reaction from kids is your standard “eewww” and they usually get forgotten in favor of one dimensional sugary sweets. Poor things. And I don’t mean the children. Rich in history and tradition, mince pies can be a great addition to the holiday table. During the Victorian era, pie making was serious business, with elaborate crust designs and ingredients. (Peacock Pie anyone?)
Modern mince pies omit the use of real mincemeat, but still include Middle Eastern spices, dried fruit, brandy and rum. Not too sweet with just the right amount of complex flavors, these mini pies are the perfect adult ending to a holiday roast or cocktail party. Dust off your fancy glasses and be sure to pair with a batch of Smoking Bishops (mulled wine), or your best scotch, rum, or cognac. (suggestions below).
Mock Minced Pie recipe (makes about 20 mini pies)
adapted from bon appetite
1 pre-made frozen pie crust, slightly defrosted (take out of freezer 1 hour ahead)
2 granny smith apples – peeled quartered and chopped into very small cubes
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup dried raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
handful of dried apricots, dried cherries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tblspn light molasses
1 tblspn dark rum
1 tblspn brandy
1 tblspn cornstarch
2 tblspn unsalted butter
1 tsp grated orange peel-> one large peel also works
1 tsp grated lemon peel -> one large peel also works
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch of ground cloves
2 tblspn heavy whipping cream + 1 tblspn sugar –> for the glaze
few handfuls flour for rolling out the crust
mini muffin tin, wire rack, parchment paper, small biscuit cutters or cup to cut out each mold, pairing knife, rolling pin.
1). preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2). Make the filling. Place apples in food processor to chop into very small pieces, transfer to a large saucepan. Place all of the dried fruit into food processor and also chop (use the on/off turns to gauge) until everything is very finely chopped and begins to stick together. Add the dried fruits to saucepan with the apples. Add sugar, molasses, rum, brandy, cornstarch, butter, orange peel, lemon peel, spices, and sea salt. Stir to blend. Simmer over med-low heat until the mixture is very thick, stirring often to prevent scorching, about 15 minutes. Turn heat off and transfer filling to a large bowl to cool, about an hour. If you used large pieces of orange/ lemon peel, discard them at this point.
3). When the filling is cool, you can start rolling out the mini pies.
4). Flour a clean surface, and use a rolling pin to roll out the crust. Cut out as many bottoms / tops you need to fill the mini muffin tin.
5). Cut out equal amount of parchment paper strips (6 inches or so to give you little handles) that you will use in order to pull the pies out.
6). After the bottoms are in, fill each with a teaspoon of filling.
7). Place a top on each pie, and pinch together tightly with a fork to crimp and seal the edges. (optional here is to also use a small amount of egg wash to help seal).
8). Brush with the heavy cream + sugar mixture to glaze each pie. Cut small vents to let steam escape.
9). Bake in center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer immediately to wire rack to cool.
10). Serve warm or room temp with fresh whipped cream.
Paul-Marie & Fils Cognac